Thursday, March 28, 2013

This is Middle Age - This - Play Review

This - Canadian Stage at the Berkeley Street Theatre - Toronto, ON - ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Written by Melissa James Gibson, Directed by Matthew Jocelyn
Runs until April 13th 2013

This is about this and that. This is about a group of middle aged long-time friends; one who has just lost her husband and trying to move on while caring for an unseen 9 year old; a married couple with a newborn baby; and the token gay friend. This is when they have dinner party and a French Doctor-without-borders joins them and games get misinterpreted which leads to a series of events that start disassembling the group, the marriage, the friendships, all while the French interloper observes as an outsider.

The strong cast of five is stellar with the material. With Yanna McIntosh (everything, including Speaking in Tongues) and Jonathon Young (Tear the Curtain!, Studies in Motion) as the couple dealing with a new baby as well as a new development, while Alon Nashman (Scorched) is wonderfully nurturing and yet pointedly hilarious as Alan, the gay friend with a highly evolved memory. Christian Laurin's Jean Pierre may be the least developed character and is used more as a plot device, but Laurin's   reactions and his final diatribe is so spot on that it explains his existence.

Meanwhile, while it isn't quite as evident as first, since the ensemble works so well together, This becomes truly a piece for Laura Condlin as Jane, the widower being emotionally bounced around while trying to make it through the day as a mother, friend, person.

Matthew Jocelyn opens up the play on Astrid Janson's open set that strips the Berkeley Street Theatre to its bare bones and keeps the lights on the entire theatre while situating some of the audience members onto the stage area, with the actors moving in and out of the audience. While I appreciated the concept, I only wish the audience seating were brought into the stage a bit even more, and close up the performance space a little more to get this closeness effect I believe they were trying to achieve. Still, the bare stage with minimal props lets the drama unfold and reveal itself in the same simplicity as the set harks to.

Gibson's play is often funny between bouts of awkward situations presented as the mess of real life as it invades upon these middle aged friends. While the French character Jean Pierre sometimes feels shoehorned in to move certain plot points, and while the gay friend sometimes feels like the token gay friend in a sitcom, there are still many moments of truths that sear through the play, that ultimately is much ado about ... this... or that.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Le Pain and Suffering - Les Misérables - BluRay/DVD Review

Les Misérables - BluRay and DVD (includes Digital Copy and Ultraviolet)
Available Mar. 22nd 2013

Lots have been said about the film when it came out in cinemas. Between the raves, the backlash, the backlash on the backlash, and the backlash on the backlash on the backlash, somewhere in between, is probably where I land on with the film. A film based on the famous musical by Alain Boubil and Claude Schönberg that I like, but don't think, like many fans, is the best musical ever or some orgasmic response. Still, it's a musical with stunning music that we all know by now, and while there is a level of respect for the original musical (which I have seen on stage several times), translating a musical to film is a totally different game. One that sometime succeeds (Chicago, Hairspray) and sometimes fails (Rent, Nine).

Director Tom Hooper makes some bold choices, and I admire his vision in trying to give us a realistic vision of the despair and emotional heartbreaks in Les Misérables, with live sung-through performances that ante up the dramatic acting at the sake of perfect singing. The "realistic" singing didn't bother me as much as it seems to have bothered many out there. I was fine with sacrificing being perfectly in key for

It was the technical elements that bothered me most about the film, including the camerawork and the stage-looking set design that countered the realistic tone Hooper seemed to be going for. However the shaky cam that is nauseating on the big screen is, while still an unnecessary creative choice, is less bothersome on the small screen in the BluRay/DVD release of Les Mis. The music still sounds great, but now I only wish some of the plotholes were smoothed out between the stage and filming. What one can excuse on stage with theatrical elements, seems to feel very jumpy, or cheesily overdramatic on film (like the whole purpose of Inspector Javert and his motivations).

Still, the performances, from Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, to Hugh Jackman, to Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Colm Wilkinson, Daniel Huttlestone, and so on, are stellar, and despite which way you sway on Russell Crowe's singing, he gives Inspector Javert the heft and a nice counterpoint to Jackman.

The BluRay/DVD set includes features on Victor Hugo's original masterwork, on creating the sets for the film, plus a full commentary with director Tom Hooper.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Contestworthy: Ann on Broadway!

Holland Taylor is on Broadway this season as ANN, about the feisty Texas governor Ann Richards! Now in previews at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater, and officially opening this Thursday, March 7th! And guess what? I have a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader/follower!

Written AND performed by Emmy Award winner Holland Taylor (Two and A Half Men, The Practice) in "a no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary Texas Governor. The new play brings us face to face with a complex, colorful and captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed".

Playing to sold-out audiences in Texas, and winning critical acclaim in Chicago and at the Kennedy Center in Washingon, DC., The Lincoln Center Theatre now brings Ann to New York for a limited run.

To enter the Ann on Broadway contest:

- Email me at tapeworthycontest at gmail dot com with the answers, your name and city. Please subject the email: ANN ON BROADWAY CONTEST 

- Answer these trivia questions:
1) Holland Taylor has had an illustrious career in film, theatre and television, but in what film did she play a stern law professor?

2) Ann Richards was ultimately beaten in an election for Texas Governorship by which candidate, who she called "some jerk" at one point in the campaign?

3) Holland Taylor have starred in numerous television shows. Name 2 shows and their respective co-stars who will also appear on Broadway this season.

- Contest closes at 11:59pm EST on Friday, March 8th 2013. A winner will be randomly picked from all correct entries received.

- For ONE BONUS Entry: Share the contest on twitter and include your twitter handle and twitter post in the email.
- For ANOTHER BONUS Entry: Share the contest on Facebook on Public setting and include a link to your Facebook page in the email.

- Tapeworthy is not responsible for the prize. Voucher issued by ANN on Broadway includes 2 tickets to the show on Broadway for a date of your choice (subject to availability). Travel is not included in the prize.  You must present your confirmation to the Box Office when you pick up your tickets. Once an order is confirmed, it cannot be changed. Tickets can ONLY be picked up on the day of the performance. Tickets must be picked up at the Box Office no later than 30 minutes prior to show time or your tickets WILL be released for resale. Released tickets cannot be rescheduled.
Prize has no monetary value and cannot be resold to another party.

- Only one winner will be chosen.
I will ask for further details if you are the winner. Only the one winner will be contacted.

Vance at

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